I have been on a total of 3 expeditions with Operation Wallacea, each one completely different from the next. On each trip I usually spent one week inland within a forest or jungle environment, and one week along the coast or on an island.
In 2012 I spent 2 weeks in Honduras where I learned how I could physically help the living planet by participating in field research. By learning to scuba dive, I discovered a whole new world within the marine ecosystems that allowed me to develop a love and understanding for the importance and necessity of these environments. I experienced life in a remote part of the world and realized the passion I have for the world around me. After Honduras, I completely changed what I wanted to do with my life and career by entering college and pursuing a degree in Environmental Science.
2 years later I was back in the field, but this time in Ecuador. Here, the accommodations were much less harsh, which had its benefits, but I found myself missing the rough and tumble of Honduras. The loo with a view and the changing menus for each meal practically felt like vacation, so I wasn't complaining. The differences between the two trips were vast, but one was not necessarily better than the other, just different. I still had the opportunity for a vast amount of field work and the ability to dip my toes into various projects and studies, including bat/ humming bird surveys and carbon sequestration surveys for the REDD+ program. The ability to visit the Galapagos Islands was also something I will never forget. We attended lectures taught by a Chilean professor and delved into concepts specific towards the island (Giant tortoises, Darwins' finches, plant adaptations etc.) I learned so much and this trip as it was an experience unlike any other.
Last summer I went on my last expedition with Operation Wallacea to the beautiful country of Greece. I had never been to Europe before, so this was an experience in itself. Already equipped with my scuba certification, I was able to assist in underwater seagrass research and fish diversity studies. Catering towards the marine ecosystems, this trip provided me with the experience I desired for my fisheries and aquatic science minor at school. In the video link provided, you will be able to see clips from my time spent in Athens, as well as the time I spent in the water and on the islands right off the coast of Greece. Things not shown in the video included the chameleon surveys and a large amount time we spent surveying a cove for the eventual site for captive dolphin releases. Working with the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation was a pleasure as it provided me within insight for how international environmental groups work within their governments to protect their environments and increase awareness about issues pertaining to their local ecosystems.
Overall, I would recommend going on one of the trips through Operation Wallacea. My world view has expanded ten fold since I first went to Honduras and I have a greater appreciation for the environment and the potential place I have in it. I believe everyone should experience something like this, even if to just gain a perspective other than that of an American or British mindset. My life certainly changed for the better as I discovered my passion and set the direction of the life on course to make the environment a better place for the future.